This issue of the CNRE newsmagazine may be the most diverse in content that I can recall. It illuminates how college faculty, staff, students, and alumni are globally engaged: they are looking for great white sharks in the Mediterranean, impacting wood products through extension programs, placing cameras on black bears, and exploring the use of hemp byproducts. Higher education is truly a life-changing experience, and you can read how being a Hokie defined Don Bright ‘98. I am thankful for the commitment of our faculty as they continue to impact students’ lives, and I can’t imagine a more exciting and challenging career path.

The predicted wave of faculty retirements is beginning. In the next few years, up to 15 senior faculty and staff will start a new chapter in life. We are planning carefully as we consider our current and future curricula, research emphases, and outreach programs. We’ve recently completed strategic planning and academic assessment efforts that will guide us into the future. We’ve also engaged a consultant to help us explore the organization and business/support functions of the college.

You’ve heard many times that “it’s about the people” and it truly is for CNRE. Helen Thompson, long-time editor of the news magazine, has retired. Thank you, Helen, for your excellent work in showcasing all that we do. Bob Smith is retiring following a successful career as a faculty member, department head, and associate dean.  Thank you, Bob, for all you’ve contributed. Also departing at the end of the academic year are three professors: Dean Stauffer of Fish and Wildlife, and Bill Carstensen and Jim Campbell of Geography. Best wishes, Dean, Bill, and Jim, and thank you. You have had stellar careers and contributed much to our students, research, and outreach.

Professor Kathy Alexander has been named the William E. Lavery Professor in recognition of her work in the international arena. We lost a good friend and partner of the college and university with the passing of Brooks Whitehurst.

As I write today, we are about to celebrate Forest Products Week. Our Departments of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Biomaterials work to promote the wise management and use of global forest resources for a sustainable planet. Forests are one of the most effective means of using and storing carbon, and they also provide clean air and water, biodiversity, renewable products, and millions of jobs worldwide. Our work in this area is critical and our students will be prepared to tackle these challenging issues. I hope to see many alumni and industry partners next May when Virginia Tech hosts the 2022 Virginia Forestry Summit.

We are thankful to be back on campus, safely conducting in-person classes, research, and outreach activities – and creating the future one day and one student at a time. Thank you for your support of the college and your engagement with us.

Warm regards from our faculty, staff, and students,

Paul Winistorfer

Paul M. Winistorfer